April 11, 2012
The most impulsive purchase I ever made was a power washer. I have bought a lot more expensive items, both before and since, but the power washer stands out as a gem among the jewels. With no intention of buying anything remotely related, I happened upon a demonstration in which someone took a power washer and used it on scummy-looking plastic outdoor furniture. The plastic furniture was the exact same as what we had at our house, and the scum buildup very closely resembled what ours had from sitting outside all winter. It was nothing short of amazing what the power washer did with that furniture. Yes, they had pretreated the plastic a bit and were using a strong wash compound, but the scum literally disappeared the second the water hit it as if legerdemain were afoot. I drove home as fast as I could and silently gathered all the plastic furniture and took it to the driveway. I then called my wife to come out and set eyes upon the power washer resting at my foot like a new puppy. Never mind the fact that I hadn’t bought any soap or done any pretreating — I wanted to see the look on her face when my new toy turned the old furniture new. This might be a good time to mention that I live in the country and the water pressure from our well is quite low. It might also be worth mentioning that I tend to buy garden hoses from the Kinks-a-lot Corporation. Neither of these factors help when trying to run a 5,000 PSI power washer. Neither of these were relevant, however, to the first words out of her mouth. Sensing what I was about to demonstrate, she asked how much the washer cost. I answered. She then asked if I had any idea how much plastic patio chairs sell for. I had to confess that I didn’t. She enlightened me and even went to the additional trouble of dividing the cost of the washer by the cost of the chairs. It turns out that we could buy new chairs at the beginning of every summer for many years to come for what I had paid for the washer. Rather than admit she was right, I then began to make up things that could also benefit from being blasted with water at such high pressure. The attempt was vain, and I soon had to give in to defeat — particularly when I fired the washer up and butted head-on against the low well pressure and cheap hose issues. My demonstration failed to have the same dazzle as the one I’d witnessed. Prolific author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki has the best advice I know of for businesses or individuals when it comes to impulse purchases: If you can’t live without something, wait a week and see if you’re still alive. Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology. The Falls School of Business is one of Anderson University’s largest academic departments offering eight undergraduate majors as well as MBA and DBA programs. The school is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and is a member of the Christian Business Faculty Association (CBFA). Columns from Anderson University’s Falls School of Business are published Tuesdays in The Herald Bulletin. Tuesday’s columnist is Emmett Dulaney, who teaches marketing and entrepreneurship.